Sunday, December 17, 2006


Royal Canadian "Mounted" Police!

The "Mounties" are world-famous, and held in "high regard", and have a "storied" history. I love the stories of "Sam Steele", the third officer sworn in to the newly formed North West Mounted Police (NWMP), entering as a Staff Constable. He was one of the officers to lead the new recruits of the NWMP on the 1874 March West, when he returned to Fort Garry, present-day Winnipeg, Manitoba. To him fell the rank of Staff Sergeant Major and the responsibility-- as an accomplished horseman and man-at-arms--, of drilling the new recruits. In 1878, Steele was given his own command at Fort Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan.

In 1877, he was assigned to meet with Sitting Bull, who, having defeated General Custer at Little Bighorn, had moved with his people into Canada to escape American vengeance. Steele along with U.S. Army General Alfred Howe Terry attempted unsuccessfully to persuade Sitting Bull to return to the U.S. (The Sioux did return a few years later.)

During the North-West Rebellion Steele was dispatched with a small force. Missing the Battle of Batoche the Mounties were sent to move against the last rebel force led by Big Bear. He was present at the Battle of Frenchman's Butte, where Big Bear's warriors defeated the Canadian forces under General Thomas Strange. Two weeks later, Steele and his two dozen Mounties defeated Big Bear's force at Loon Lake in the last battle ever fought on Canadian territory. The contributions of the NWMP in putting down the rebellion went largely ignored and unrewarded, to Steele's great annoyance. By 1885, Steele held the rank of Superintendent. He established Fort Steele in 1887 before moving on to Fort Macleod in 1888. He married Marie Harwood at Vaudreuil, Quebec in 1890 (they had met at Fort Macleod the previous year). They had three children, including Harwood Steele, who would fictionalize episodes from his father's life in novels such as Spirit-of-Iron (1929).

The discovery of gold in the Klondike, Yukon in the late 1890s presented Steele with a new challenge. Although he campaigned unsuccessfully for the position of assistant commissioner in 1892, in January of 1898, he was sent to succeed Charles Constantine as commissioner and to establish customs posts at the head of the White and Chilkoot Passes, and at Lake Bennett. He was noted for his hard line with the hundreds of unruly and independent-minded prospectors, many of them American. To help control the situation, he established the rule that no one would be allowed to enter the Yukon without a ton of goods to support themselves, thus preventing the entry of desperate and potentially unruly speculators and adventurers.

Steele and his force made the Klondike Gold Rush one of the most orderly of its kind in history and made the NWMP famous around the world, which ensured its survival at a critical time when the force's dissolution was being debated in parliament. By July of 1898, Steele commanded all the NWMP in the Yukon area, and was a member of the territorial council. As the force reported directly to Ottawa, Steele had almost free rein to run things as he chose, always with an eye towards maintaining law, order and Canadian sovereignty.

Yes, the "Mounties" sure have a "history", as detailed in the above short history of some of Sam Steele's exploits. My father was actually a "Mountie" in the 1950s, and during training in Regina, I believe he had a horse named "Wag", if my "marginally-coherent cranial mass" remembers correctly. Anyways, I ran into some "Mounties" the other day and their "mount", and the great tradition continues today. The "Mounties" travel to where they are needed, and they get there "post-haste"! Check out the "mounts" the "Mounties" use today!

 What a "horse"!

 "Pilatus PC-12"!

 I introduced myself to the pilot, Peter, and he just loves the airplane. He told me that his "routing" that day had been; "Winnipeg - Berens River - Thompson - Tadoule Lake - Lac Brochet - Thompson - Berens River - ... and he was still going to Poplar River, and then Winnipeg"! He said the "work" you can do, and the speed, is amazing. He loves "the bird". Look on a map, folks, and check his routing. Must be close to a couple thousand miles, with many stops, hauling prisoners, and changing "members" from the Detachments!

 No "reining-in" this horse, she likes "to run"..........

 "Superintendent Sam Steele" would be "proud"!

(PS - Today, Ian Odger, "Sturdy" Dan McBeath, and I, went to Little Grand Rapids in "marginal" weather and runway and ramp conditions on charters. Here are some pics.)


 The snow continues........

 The snow is getting a "little deep" on the ramp.........

 .....and the last word of my "Post" goes to Ian Odger, flying the "Airvan"! We were actually in Little Grand Rapids to pick up the "Hawaiian Tropic Bikini Pageant Finalists", and they were just standing out of the picture, "hence" Odger's "non-chalant, Clark Gable" pose.......... Posted by Picasa


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